President David Granger plans to hold bilateral talks with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on national issues this month, declaring that there needs to be political consensus on campaign finance legislation and the revision of the ‘Carter formula’ used for appointments to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
At his third press conference held yesterday since the 2015 General Elections, Granger was questioned about electoral reforms. He acknowledged that it is possible to have these implemented before the next elections, but a lot depends on the agreements of the two political sides.
“We are still working under the Carter formula which we generally agreed to have exhausted its usefulness. It’s like having a cricket match with one umpire from each team. It is not a formula for consensus,” Granger noted.
The Carter-Price formula was created by former United States of America President, Jimmy Carter and former Prime Minister of Belize, George Price.
The formula allows for the Opposition and Government to nominate three Commissioners each, with a Chairman appointed by the President, following consultations with the Opposition Leader.
The formula was a response to the contentious 1992 elections and was first applied in the General Elections of 1997.
Granger had faced criticisms when he appointed Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM in October, last, without consensus from Jagdeo. This has sparked a legal challenge from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
“It’s almost a formula for gridlock.
There needs to be a change and like other provisions we need to establish new rules,” said Granger. He noted that no proposal has been made as yet for the reform of GECOM.
He highlighted that the process always come back to the situation where the main parties would, either through convention or through constitutional change, be required to make nominations.
According to Granger, once those nominations come from political parties you can anticipate certain consequences.
“I am in favour of reform, but we must adopt the architecture. We must adopt the procedures which are in place for the other constitutional commissions,” Granger noted.
He told reporters that it is too late for power sharing with the opposition given the Cabinet configuration, but pointed out that the Coalition Government is opened to ‘sharing of ideas’.
“We have no problem with engaging the opposition and all of my meetings with the Leader of the Opposition have been quite cordial.
I expect that once we re-engage next month, things will go much more quickly and much more smoothly,” the President noted.
In July, Carter had reached out to Jagdeo and Granger in an effort to get the Government and Opposition to hold discussions on critical issues of national importance.
Plans for the intended political discussions appeared to have been stalled because the Opposition was opposed to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo leading the Government’s delegation.
The President has since agreed to lead the talks himself, paving the way for the two sides to resume meetings. There are ongoing discussions on what topics will be placed on the table.
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